Before announcing his commitment to Clemson on Saturday, Charleston (S.C.) First Baptist Church School running back Michel Dukes gave a speech in which he let his parents know how much he appreciates them, thanking them for always supporting and loving him unconditionally.
Sitting beside his son during the commitment ceremony at First Baptist Gym, Michel Dukes Sr. couldn’t help but get emotional.
“It meant a lot because I know how hard he worked to get to this point today,” Dukes Sr. told The Clemson Insider following Dukes’ announcement. “Like he said, we were up and down the roads … We did a lot of things together, and he’s been in my life all his life. So, all of it just came back to me and then it just made me tear up, made me boo and cry like a little baby.”
Dukes received a long-awaited offer from Clemson two weekends ago while on campus with his parents for an official visit.
Knowing that was the offer their son had coveted, Dukes’ parents were ecstatic when co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott extended it to him.
“We were happy. We were very happy,” Dukes Sr. said. “It was well-deserved to be truthful because I just figured that Mikey himself knew where he wanted to be.
“He had camped at Clemson since the eighth grade and always had liked Clemson, and Clemson was always the choice since youth. He learned a lot at their camp. A little bit of his running style, he was taught by Clemson.”
Dukes and his parents share a special bond with Elliott, who is also a native of the Lowcountry.
Dukes Sr. was able to spend plenty of time with Elliott and get to know him better during his son’s official visit.
“We did a lot of laughing and joking, just reminiscing about years back,” Dukes Sr. said. “He’s a little younger than me, but I understand where he was coming from and he understood where I was coming from being that both of us are from Charleston.”
Dukes Sr. has a lot of respect for Elliott and is fond of Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney as well.
“Coach Swinney, all I can say is he’s upbeat, and that’s what I like,” he said. “I like to laugh, he likes to laugh. He seems like he likes to have fun and I’m that type of guy, too, so I think me and him will get along well.”
Dukes chose to play for the Tigers over offers from South Carolina, East Carolina, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Wake Forest, among others. He will sign with Swinney’s program on Wednesday, National Signing Day, and enroll at the school this summer.
Dukes Sr. knows his son will be in good hands at Clemson and can’t wait to see him start his career as a Tiger.
“I’m going to be happy, to be truthful,” he said. “I’m going to be happy, and Michel’s a big boy. I think he can handle it.”
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